Matthew Perry, the Friends star who died tragically Saturday of an alleged drowning, had a special bond with his costars on the smash NBC sitcom. The actor, who was found dead at his home at the age of 54, starred as Chandler Bing on the wildly successful show for ten seasons, from 1994 to 2004.
The affable comedy about six twenty-somethings dealing with life, love, and employment in 1990s New York City made household names out of Perry, Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, and David Schwimmer. Despite the show wrapping up in 2004, the cast remained close in the years after, reuniting for a 2021 reunion.
On HBO Max’s “Friends: The Reunion,” the cast came together one last time to reminisce on the show that changed all of their lives. Perry said at the time: “It changed my life in every way. I got the show when I was a 24-year-old man; the show ended when I was 34. It formed my life. And it was the time of my life.”
During the reunion show, Perry became emotional talking about the lasting bond he made with his Friends. He continued: “The best way that I can describe it is after the show was over, at a party or any kind of social gathering, if one of us bumped into each other, that was it. That was the end of the night. You just sat with the person all night long and that was it. You apologized to the people you were with, but they had to understand you had met somebody special to you and you were going to talk to that person for the rest of the night. And that’s the way it worked.”
Perry wrote his memoir, “Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing,” in 2022, and he wrote openly about his years-long struggles with addiction. During much of his time on the show, Perry was in the throes of his addiction, often taking over 50 pain pills a day.
Despite his personal issues, his cast mates were very supportive of Perry, always having his back despite his issues. He said in 2022: “They were understanding, and they were patient. It’s like penguins. In nature, when one is sick or very injured, the other penguins surround it and prop it up and walk around until that penguin can walk on its own. And that’s kind of what the cast did for me.”
Ben Winston, who co-directed the reunion special, had this to say about the late star: “He’s a brilliantly funny man and I thought he had some great one-liners in the show. I felt just happy and lucky to be in his presence and directing him on something like this.”
Friends was a special show at exactly the right moment in time. It revitalized NBC and ushered in the ‘must-see TV” era on Thursday nights for the network. The show launched superstar careers and changed network sitcoms for the better.
It is unclear if drugs or alcohol contributed to Matthew Perry’s untimely death, but he will be missed by family and friends.
Featured image screen grab from embedded YouTube video
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